Work on the Rotherhithe Tunnel commenced in 1904 and it was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales (later King George V) in 1908. Linking Limehouse on the north bank with Rotherhithe on the south, it was designed to provide a means for pedestrians and horse drawn traffic to cross the river without the need to travel west to Tower Bridge or east to the Blackwall Tunnel on the other side of the Isle of Dogs. Obviously, horse traffic eventually gave way to the ubiquitous motor vehicle and it is still an important, and heavily used, route from north to south but I had no idea that it was still accessible to pedestrians. According to Wikipedia around twenty pedestrians still use the tunnel each day!
So, this morning, I joined two friends, Jane and Jen to check it out for ourselves. it was a remarkably stress free journey. The pavements (on both sides) are around four feet wide and the speed limit is 20mph so, all things considered, it was probably much safer than the average country lane. The lighting was a pretty good and there were signs, indicating how far you have travelled and how far you still had to go, at regular intervals. I have to admit that air quality was not exactly brilliant but was not as bad as you might expect.
After a walk of just under a mile and reaching a maximum depth below the river surface of approx. 75ft we emerged into the sunshine and the (relatively) fresh air of the north bank. Overall, an interesting experience but probably not one I'd care to do on a daily basis.
It is a little known fact (?) that beer is the perfect antidote to a potential exhaust fume overdose and to that end we made our way to the Old Ship pub on the delightful York Square E14 (recommended, by the way) for a pint or three. A nice way to end a nice day in good company.
By the way, it was a good job that Jane had her breakdown before entering the tunnel as we didn't have a vehicle to return to!
More photographs to follow on Flickr soon.